EnergySavers to the rescue! Do you have high energy bills? Well, we did too and decided to get educated and take control over our energy consumption. We have actually reduced our energy consumption over the past few years by 50% and YOU CAN TOO! Yes 50% is possible if you follow along here.
Did we do it all at once you ask? Heck no, that's impossible. First we researched and analyzed each of the individual elements that impact energy consumption. Then we designed and built all of our home improvements incorporating this knowledge as our framework.
First things first--before you can accomplish any energy efficiency gains, you must know how efficient your home is currently and how you and your family's behaviors have a huge impact on your total energy consumption.
To do this first take a look at the graph below. This is an energyguide for the typical single family home in the United States broken down by each energy consuming area of a home. Now compare your home's energy consumption against this standard. We'll show you how we did this a little later on, along with several other energy saving tools.
Source: Typical House memo, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2009 and Typical house_2009_Reference.xls spreadsheet.
Average price of electricity is 11.3 cents per kilo-watt hour. Average price of natural gas is $13.29 per million Btu.
* “Other” represents an array of household products, including stoves, ovens, microwaves, and small appliances like coffee makers and dehumidifiers.
EnergySavers Tip I Measuring & Monitoring Real Time Electricity Usage
For any homeowner interested in improving their energy efficiency, the single biggest challenge is in trying to manage something that you can't see. Well, we changed that.
We installed a TED-5000 (TED is an acronym for The Energy Detective). This is a device that our electrician installed inside of our electric panel. It captures real time data on our electricity consumption. TED also comes with a piece of software called FootPrints that allows you to monitor everything on your PC screen.
Additionally, the FootPrints software saves every piece of data it collects into historical charts and graphs. Finally we had a baseline against with which we could measure the impact of our energy efficiency home improvements.
EnergySavers Tip II Insulating Your Attic Stairs Plugging That 10 Square Foot Hole
When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood.
Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood.
Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door -- do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.
EnergySavers Tip III More Energy Efficiency Home Improvements You Can Make
As we moved forward with our-home-improvements, energy-efficiency was built-in to every decision we made. Along the way we discovered some major pockets of opportunity, and some that were minor. Nonetheless it worked!
Got a thirst for better knowledge on how we did it? Just follow the links below to get a better understanding of how you can do it too.